Gregg Hunter’s Newspace

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It’s been four years since veteran Chef Uli Heugl closed the Matterhorn in Valley Glen, which he operated for a dozen years after a successful tenure at Adriano’s at the peak of Beverly Glen. Uli has re-emerged at the Swiss Chef Restaurant (formerly San Remo), again in Valley Glen where he oversees lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday with a menu that embraces several classic Old World cuisines plus creative current dishes. Prices are mid-range and most portions are generous enough for sharing. The remodeled premises are attractive and family friendly. There’s paid valet parking available and alcoholic beverage licenses are pending at 13727 Victory Blvd. For specifics, log onto www.swisschefusa.com. Glad to have you back, Chef Uli!

Always price-savvy, Denny’s chain has introduced a variety of budget meals priced at $2, $4, $6 and $8. Starting with a mini $2 breakfast (any time) of biscuits and gravy with an egg or hash browns and topping out at $8 with spicy chopped steak or lemon pepper chicken dinner. For more about the 16 bargain specials, log on www.dennys.com. For the record, my favorite dish at the “Big D” is Moon over My Hammy, a concoction of a scrambled egg sandwich with ham, cheese and hash browns. It seems there’s a flip side to everything that tastes really good. The Moon dish belts a whopping 2580 mg sodium count, so approach with caution.

Happy hour at Chang’s group stretches from 3 – 6p.m. daily with budget dishes like $3 spring rolls and bar drinks from $4 at locations in Burbank, Sherman Oaks, Woodland Hills and beyond.

Bite into a ‘Naked Betty White’ hot dog named to honor (??) the legendary 88-year-old comedy star by the equally venerable if less amusing Pink’s. It’s a basic beef sausage on a bun and one hot promotion. Pass the mustard!

For your approval, here are three taste-tested, solid value, vintage imports at shelf prices under or around $20. Flavorful d’Arenberg 2005 Original Shiraz Grenache from Australia, Gala 2008 Notios White with its punch of peach plus a hint of lemon taste, or Estate Argyros 2008 Assyrtiko. The latter two wines are from the Greek Islands.

Despite an extended season of chilly weather, it’s been a lukewarm winter for the makers of canned soups with sales of ready-to-eat brands plummeting across the charts. As a devout soupaholic, I submit that we don’t get much for our grocery money. Glossy promotions outshine most of the anemic products while escalating shelf prices and shrinking contents discourage stocking up until there’s a sale on.

The small type on soup cans defies consumer comprehension. Labels are mostly loaded with additives and preservatives but few terms like ‘natural’ or ‘nutritious.’ Campbell’s condensed Cream of Mushroom soup, relied as a home recipe shortcut, delivers a whopping 870 mgs of sodium per serving.

Campbell’s belatedly began reducing excessive salt in several products but buyer dissatisfaction plummeted the firm’s sales by 8% from November thru January earmarked by an 18% decline for ready to serve soups like the premium “Chunky” label. With profits getting as thin as bullion, the firm is launching an aggressive marketing campaign. Louder hawking should not be the solution in this unparallel thriftiness era. The fact remains that a typical American eats twice the healthy level of sodium daily while the FDA continues to waffle about improved regulations. Come on fellas something’s gotta give!

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The Curious Palate

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